‘Shot across the bows’ for Steels Luxury Coaches

Licence cut for Ilkley firm that had not ‘fully-efficient’ systems in place

In cutting the international licence held by Ilkley-based Steels Luxury Coaches from eight vehicles to seven, Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore described it as “a shot across the bows”.

At the outset of a Leeds Public Inquiry, the TC said that the driving entitlement of the driver of a vehicle checked at the Great Yorkshire Show in July 2018, David Edmondson, had expired on 27 March and  the driver card in the tachograph belonged to director and Transport Manager (TM) Timothy Steel.

Mr Edmondson had not recorded his positioning journey. A follow-up investigation revealed a number of drivers’ hours issues, including a failure to download director Matthew Steel’s digital card. 

Some of the issues related to a mixture of coach and bus operation. As soon as a driver did a private hire job, the EU rules required that driver to have daily and weekly rests. The easiest thing was to get all drivers doing a mix of work to use tachographs.

A maintenance investigation resulted in two prohibitions – one for a seatbelt and the other for different size tyres on the same axle. Out of date inspection forms were in use. There was no forward planner. Inspection frequencies had been extended to nine weeks on three occasions and there was no evidence of brake testing. There was also the question of who was undertaking the TM role.

Timothy Steel said that it had been completely overlooked that his digital card was in the tachograph in July. He had intended to do the job, but he received a telephone call saying his son’s car had broken down in a hazardous situation. It was a bit of a panic and Mr Edmondson was asked to take the job over.  

The tyre prohibition arose after they had had a spate of punctures and the tyre company switched the wheels around. He accepted that it should have been spotted. His son Matthew, who held a CPC, looked after the paperwork, scheduling and the drivers’ hours. 

The maintenance issues had been addressed and they were to have roller brake tests four times a year.

The TC commented that there should also be dynamic-metered brake tests at every inspection and Timothy Steel said that they had now purchased a Tapley Meter.

Matthew Steel said that they checked driving licences every six months. They were aware that Mr Edmondson’s driving licence was up for renewal and that he was going for a medical. When they heard nothing, they had thought it was fine and they were unaware that his licence was not renewed for medical reasons. Mr Edmondson no longer did any work for them.

For the company, Scott Bell said that the plan was for Matthew Steel to take over as TM.  The company would be happy to have an independent systems audit in six months’ time.

In cutting the licence, the TC said that the company had not had fully-efficient vehicle maintenance, driver licensing and drivers’ hours systems in place. He would be prepared to increase the licence to eight vehicles following a satisfactory audit.